Jersey Boys (Review)

Jersey Boys was a hit at the Aronoff in 2008, and Broadway Series subscribers have been asking for a return visit since then, with good reason.

Critic's Pick

It’s not hard to identify the charm of Jersey Boys, the 2006 Tony Award-winning best musical on Broadway. Of course, it’s full of Pop hits from the 1960s by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. But the show takes you behind the scenes for the personal history of four kids who made it big. It takes audiences swiftly through their climb from copycat cover bands doing Doo-Wop tunes and then finding their sound with “Sherry,” the first of a string of gigantic hits between 1962 and 1975.

Each of the guys takes turns narrating their story of how they hit the big time, flourished, floundered then reconciled, never fading in popularity. Their tales follow different paths — and perspectives, depending on who’s doing the talking — but when they sing there’s total harmony, led by Valli’s high tenor. They exploded on the charts in 1962 and were one of Pop music’s most dependable and popular groups. And the reproduction of their music in Jersey Boys is a big part of the show’s appeal. From the wailing strains of “Sherry” and “Dawn (Go Away)” to get-tough tunes like “Walk Like a Man” and “Big Man in Town,” the touring cast onstage at the Aronoff makes you feel like you’re right there when they burst onto the charts. At the same time, you get to know who they were as regular guys who hit the jackpot then had to live with their fame.

The four singers performing as the quartet are totally believable. As Valli, Nick Cosgrove has the requisite four-octave vocal range to hit the high notes. He has a wonderfully smooth delivery (his rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” will melt a lot of hearts), as well as the intense physical presence (he even does the splits) that marked Valli as the group’s step-out star. John Gardiner — who hails from Edgewood, Ky., and is an NKU grad — plays Tommy DeVito, the tough, ambitious guy who managed the group but also nearly destroyed it with his profligate behavior. Michael Lomenda is the steady, deep-voiced Nick Massi who held things together. And Miles Jacoby is “The Genius,” Bob Gaudio, the guy who wrote the songs and was the catalyst for DeVito’s trio to coalesce into “The Four Seasons.” Each of them is a sharply defined individual, but it’s when they sing — and move with their precise choreography — that you know why they became such a sensation.

Jersey Boys was a hit at the Aronoff in 2008 — its appeal is infectious and it looks great (the singers change suits for almost every number, each ensemble more memorable than the one before it), and Broadway Series subscribers have been asking for a return visit since then, with good reason. Almost 80 percent of the seats have been sold, so if you want to experience this recreation of a Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame band, you need to make your move now.

JERSEY BOYS, presented by Broadway in Cincinnati, continues through Dec. 9.

About The Author

Rick Pender

RICK PENDER has written about theater for CityBeat since its first issues in 1994. Before that he wrote for EveryBody’s News. From 1998 to 2006 he was CityBeat’s arts & entertainment editor. Retired from a long career in public relations, he’s still a local arts fan, providing readers (and public radio listeners)...
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